Free Markets, Free People

Tim Pawlenty

Perry in, Pawlenty out

It should really come as no surprise that former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty has chosen to drop out of the race for the GOP nomination for President.  AP reports:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination on Sunday, hours after finishing a disappointing third in the Iowa straw poll.

"I wish it would have been different. But obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t really exist so we are going to end the campaign," Pawlenty said on ABC’s "This Week" from Iowa shortly after disclosing his plans in a private conference call with supporters.

The low-key Midwesterner and two-term governor had struggled to gain traction in a state he had said he must win and never caught fire nationally with a Republican electorate seemingly craving a charismatic, nonestablishment, rabble-rouser to go up against President Barack Obama.

Whether or not it is necessary for the candidate to be “charismatic, nonestablishment and a rabble-rouser” remains to be seen, but the activist community within the GOP didn’t seem to be particularly taken by Pawlenty or his campaign.   He blew his first chance to impress them by pulling punches when it came to Mitt Romney, and while a bit more feisty in this last debate, he faded into obscurity during the second hour.

But in the final analysis, Pawlenty obviously saw the handwriting on the wall with the entrance of Rick Perry, governor of Texas, into the race.   He quickly vaulted to the top of the charts and Pawlenty, being the sensible and reasonable person he is, weighed the possibility of his success in the pursuit of his goal and decided it wasn’t going to happen.  I respect him for that.

Doug Mataconis at Outside The Beltway adds:

Pawlenty had begun telegraphing this possibility last week, and while a third place finish was within the range he said that he wanted to finish in, the fact that he finished far behind the two leaders and only a few hundred votes ahead of Rick Santorum was likely the death knell for his campaign. As I’ve said here repeatedly, Iowa  was a do-or-die state for Pawlenty, if he didn’t succeed there his campaign was never going to take off nationally. For a time, it seemed like T-Paw would be the candidate who would rise to challenge Romney, but he remained at single digits in the polls and was eclipsed, first by Herman Cain and then by fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann. Now, with Rick Perry in the race, the odds of Pawlenty ever becoming anything other than a minor candidate were likely pretty much dead.

Have to agree.  As Mataconis mentions later on, look for Pawlenty to be on the short list for VP when the eventual nominee is decided.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

More ObamaCare waivers an indication that it is bad law

There’s  a lot being written and said about the latest batch of ObamaCare waivers and the fact that many have gone to companies in Nancy Pelosi’s area.  And, of course, the agency granting them has claimed that Pelosi had absolutely no effect on them being granted.

Okay, that’s not the important point anyway.  Tim Pawlenty actually manages to stumble across it as he claims cronyism in their grant:

"I don’t blame people for trying to get out from underneath it — that it is an awful law," Pawlenty said. "But when you have that many needs for exemptions, it tells you that the law — it is a warning sign that the law is broken and doesn’t work."

Ya think?  You have about 26 or 27 states challenging the Constitutionality of the bill and its individual mandate.   You have hundreds, if not thousands of companies, agencies and businesses seeking waivers.  And obviously, there’s an organization in place to grant those waivers.  Imagine a job where you review and grant waivers to a law.  I don’t know about you, but that would tell me there must be something fundamentally wrong with it.

Pawlenty is also correct about his broader point – those without the ability to appeal for a waiver are stuck with paying the piper:

"Another example of really crony politics or crony capitalism, if you’ve got the right connections, the right lobbyists, the right interest group, you get your special deal, and the rest of us get our wallet out, and that’s in the tax code, it’s in earmarking, and now you see it in ObamaCare.”

Yes, exactly.  His larger point is absolutely correct.  Those without the connections do indeed end up having our wallets looted.  Cronyism is certainly alive and well and very prevalent not only in the treatment of ObamaCare, but in other areas as well.  Which brings up an ironic point – for the party of “fairness” this seems singularly unfair.  Yet Democrats aid and abet it – in fact, just like Republicans, they use this sort of process to gain favor with certain constituencies … at the expense of others.  And by expense, I’m including paying the bill too.

ObamaCare is an obviously wretched law.  What was supposed to be insurance reform ended up being a polyglot of government bureaucracy at a huge and unaffordable price.

Now we hear the House GOP members saying that repealing it is “hard”.  We hear candidates like Romney and Gingrich saying they agree with parts of it, like the individual mandate.  Cronyism is directly linked to power – it’s a give and take process that benefits politicians.  It comes as no surprise to me that both sides are engaged in it up to their necks.  The problem is it is unlikely to ever get fixed since it is the fox guarding the hen house and enjoying the job.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Newspeak Update: Spending Cuts = Dictatorship

Bizarro world continues unabated. The logic behind this assertion is … uh, “subtle” to say the least (my emphasis):

First, on “constitutional dictatorship,” there is, somewhat surprisingly, Minnesota, where Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a favorite of the Repblican right wing (assuming there is anything else than a right wing in the GOP these days) is apparently going to use all of his powers under the Minnesota have exercised such powers, but Pawlenty’s exercise in unilateral government seems to be of a different magnitude. Perhaps we should view Minnesota as having the equivalent of a Weimar Constitution Article 48, the “emergency powers clause” that allowed the president to govern by fiat. Throughout the 1920s, it was invoked more than 200 times to respond to the economic crisis. Pawlenty is sounding the same theme, as he prepares to slash spending on all sorts of public services. The fact that this will increase his attractiveness to the Republican Right, for the 2012 presidential race that has already begun, is, of course, an added benefit, since one doubts that he is banking on a political future within Minnesota itself (which didn’t give him a majority at the last election; he was elected, as was Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, only because of the presence of third-party candidates). One might also look forward to whether he will refuse to certify Al Franken’s election to the Senate even after the Minnesota Supreme Court, like all other Minnesota courts, says that he has won. Whoever thought that Minnesota would be the leading example of a 21st-century version of “constitutional dictatorship” among the American states?

I don’t know who Sandy Levin, the author of the above screed, is but I have to believe he has become lost in his own rhetoric. We are honestly being asked to accept the premise that a Governor, using his constitutionally-approved and legislature-granted powers, is somehow a “dictator” for … slashing spending in a time of budget shortfalls?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty promised Thursday to bring Minnesota’s deficit-ridden budget back into balance on his own if the session ends Monday without an accord, using line-item vetoes and executive powers to shave billions in spending.

[…]

Pawlenty held out the possibility of a negotiated agreement, but said he was prepared to use vetoes, payment suspensions and so-called unallotment to cut the two-year budget to $31 billion. That’s about $3 billion smaller than the slate of spending bills sent to him.

The move infuriated Democrats who run the Legislature. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis dubbed Pawlenty “Governor Go It Alone.” Pawlenty shot back that without the step Kelliher would be “Speaker Special Session.”

“There will be no public hearings. There will be no public input. There will just be a governor alone with unelected people whispering in his ear of what to cut and what not to cut,” Kelliher said, calling it “bullying.”

Apparently this is exactly what Levinson and the Minnesota left want us to believe — i.e. that using duly constituted powers is the equivalent of behaving as a dictator. How utterly ridiculous.

If this were a situation where the governor was unilaterally deciding to burden the taxpayers more, or he was singling out a particular group of people to bear the brunt of arbitrary government rules, I could see where the dissenters here would have a point. If the executive branch suddenly declared, without any legislative input, that English was the official language of Minn. and no other languages would be recognized anywhere in the state upon penalty of law, then, legally granted powers or not, I would understand and support Levinson et al.

Instead, the perfectly preposterous idea that balancing a state budget, using the very powers granted the governor to accomplish the task, is now deemed the equivalent of the Weimar Republic emergency powers (you know, the ones that allowed Hitler to declare himself supreme dictator over Germany).

To be sure, the focus of this vitriolic (and, I’d say, hysterical) attack on Pawlenty stems from his threatened use of “unallotment” powers:

The procedure exists under state statute, and “the first prerequisite to unallotment is that the Commissioner of Finance ‘determines that probable receipts for the general fund will be less than anticipated, and that the amount available for the remainder of the biennium will be less than needed.”

Then the ball is in the governor’s court:

“After the Commissioner of Finance determines that the amount available for the biennium is less than needed, the governor must approve the commissioner’s actions before the commissioner can either reduce the amount in the budget reserve or reduce allotments.”

The Legislature is consulted but does not have any power or ultimate say in the governor’s actions. The process starts at the beginning of the next fiscal biennium, which means that Pawlenty won’t enact anything until July 1. And what he’ll do is anyone’s guess.

“Depending on what he does with line-item vetoes, I figure we’ll see anywhere from a half a billion to $2 billion in unallotments,” Schultz said. “It’s unprecedented in dollar amount and in willingness to use it.”

Is it good policy or politics?

Schultz points out that unallotment is on the books for “emergency conditions” in which “the Legislature can’t do its job,” such as a budget forecast that comes out when lawmakers aren’t in session.

But in Schultz’s opinion, Pawlenty is “creating the emergency conditions that allow him to use it.”

“He appears to not want to negotiate in good faith,” Schultz offered. “Working with the Legislature is supposed to be a cooperative venture, not a take-it-or-leave-it one.”

The problem, of course, is that the legislature keeps sending a bill that proposes more spending than Minnesota’s revenues will allow. Because the governor and the legislature can’t agree on identifying new revenue sources (e.g. Leg. wants to tax the rich, Gov. wants to borrow against tobacco settlement), then the two sides are at an impasse. Despite what some might say, a proposed $3 billion deficit with no budget alternative in place does represent a fiscal emergency. After all, the money has to come from somewhere, or the services (giveaways, or whatever) will have to be cut, and the government may be forced to shut down. Why that doesn’t represent a fiscal emergency of the very type contemplated by the unallotment statute remains a bit of mystery for us less hysterical folks.

Jumping out the weeds, and regardless of how one might view the necessity of spending more or less via the Minnesota budget, I am simply flabbergasted that anyone could possibly suggest that forcing the government to spend less is in anyway, shape or form equivalent to dictatorship. To accept such premise is accept the idea that government spending is the sole source of freedom. I categorically reject any such notion. And if dictatorship is to be defined as standing in firm opposition to it, then sign me up.